Tag Archives: baby boomers

Digital Survival Tools for Agents

Whether the majority of your business is online or in-office, it is crucial for you to have the right tools to help you capitalize on the insurance market and get ahead of the competition in a changing landscape.

It does not matter what type of insurance you are selling, whether it’s employee benefits, life insurance, group insurance, voluntary benefits or property and casualty. While your role may not be directly affected by things like legacy system transformation, robotics and big data, there will be ripple effects. Besides obtaining new clients, presenting renewals and marketing, changes in regulation and advances in technology are all things that agents will have to contend with.

Here are three elements that savvy agents and brokers will want to consider.

Multi-generational marketing

Global populations are now categorized (albeit loosely) into four categories: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. Although Baby Boomers are still the largest population, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts Millennials will outnumber Boomers by 2019.

These differentiated markets make targeting sales much more difficult. Fortunately, there are online tools that can support you. The trick here is diversifying your presence. Ensure that you have a presence on multiple channels so that you are able to meet your customers where they are.

See also: 10 Essential Actions for Digital Success  

Update your agency website with a live chat feature, and ensure it is easy to contact you online. Examine whether it makes sense to use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you do, you’ll need a strong content strategy that provides real value to pull in visiting prospects.

Don’t just surf the web, observe the web. Set up Google alerts and analytics and Hootsuite streams to follow partners and competitors. Watching for trends will keep you ahead of the game.

Administration tools

A strong agency management system can provide you with everything you need to support your customer lifecycle. When looking for the right one for you, think about CRM and marketing automation. Determine what will make it easier for you to track leads, nurture prospects, close deals and obtain commissions.

Once you’ve sold a policy, a high-quality microphone and webcam will enhance consistent communication with customers remotely on Skype, WebEx, GooglePlus Hangouts or even Facebook.

Get comfortable with automation

As you get comfortable with a new and diversified way of connecting with your customers, you’ll want to consider that insurance carriers are doing the same thing. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2018 report revealed 82% of insurance carriers agreed that their organizations must innovate faster just to stay competitive.

In a world where customers are shopping around for options and prices all the time, retention itself becomes a valuable commodity. Help carriers help you by learning what tools their new systems have to offer so you tap into all the resources available.

Do your insurance companies offer broker portals? Do they offer online quoting capability for immediate results? Can you generate a proposal or immediately sell a policy? Can you offer that functionality on your own website? The carriers that invest in your success by improving sales, underwriting and admin functions for quicker turnarounds and smooth renewals are doing themselves a favor, too.

See also: Agents Must Become ‘Discussion Partners’  

Think strategy

As you determine the best way to move forward, sit down with others on your team, start a Google doc and plan your strategy for the year ahead. As Yogi Berra wisely said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

What free tools will you use? Which ones will you invest money in? How will you track progress to determine ROI? What tools are working for you?

The best agents and brokers will be nimble enough to exploit the tools available to them and prepare for new ones as they arrive. The sooner you start, the more likely you’ll find yourself ahead of the digital curve.

How to Market to Different Generations

If you say that everyone is in your target market, you imply that your service or product applies to no one in particular. Defining a target market is important because everyone is in a unique life stage that will affect their buying process.

Generational marketing is when you market to a specific generation of people based on the preferences, attitudes and upbringings that distinguish them from other groups. This approach means tailoring customized messages for specific age groups instead of sending mass marketing messages.

The Silent Generation refers to people born between 1925 and 1945. The Baby Boomer generation refers to people born between 1946 and 1964. More babies were born in 1946, the year after World War II ended, than ever before: 3.4 million. That is 20% more babies than in 1945.

The Silent Generation as Clients

Characteristics of the Silent Generation include being technologically challenged, staying loyal to employers, using traditional methods and respecting authority and patriotism. More than half of the Silent Generation was married, and fewer women worked outside the home than do so today. Many of them did not have a bachelor’s degree. This generation witnessed the creation of Social Security and Medicare. Members of this generation were brought up on the value of hard work and diligent saving. Marketing to the Silent Generation means earning their trust and providing them with value.

The Silent Generation lean toward face-to-face communication. It is important to clearly communicate information and explain services or products you provide. With this generation, agents should be prepared to answer questions in person and provide hard copies of forms or reports.

When discussing financial history, it is important to approach questions without judgment. As time passes, it is imperative that you notice any cognitive changes in your clients.

See also: The Unique Skills in Each Generation  

When you are meeting with clients from the Silent Generation, it is respectful to meet them in the lobby or reception area and walk with them to your office or meeting room.

You should prepare the meeting room to be handicap-accessible, such as with adjustable chairs and wheelchair-accessible tables. Many in this generation have physical disabilities.

Some clients will have hearing disabilities, and reducing extraneous noise will make the meeting easier for them and for you. If you will be discussing end-of-life planning, having family members present is usually a good idea.

Many from this generation are worried about the economic challenges their children and grandchildren are facing and wonder why success has become much more difficult for them. Some members of this generation set up college trust funds for their grandkids, and some even assumed formal custody of them.

The Baby Boomer Generation as Clients

Baby Boomers are in the over-50 age group. They have been considered the “me” generation, characterized as having individualist attitudes. This group of men and women were the first TV generation. Baby Boomers were also the first generation where divorce was socially tolerated.

This generation has grown up through the phases of getting married, forming families, raising kids and settling in careers. Some are  now grandparents. This generation is viewing the world around them in an experienced way.

To reach this generation effectively through marketing, you will need to try to show you understand their upbringing and values.

If you are looking to form a stronger relationship with your Baby Boomer clients, you will want to be as respectful as possible. Never refer to a Baby Boomer as old; it disregards the way the generation is redefining what growing old means. When marketing to these people, do not assume their age will hold them back.

Many Baby Boomers are looking forward to retirement adventures like cruises, dinner parties, sky diving and other means of experiencing the world around them. This is not the generation to retire so they can sit at home at watch TV all day.

When working with Baby Boomer clients, it is important that you keep your promises. This should go without saying; keeping your promises should be a priority with all of your clients. This is how you build and maintain trust between your business and your clients.

Providing exceptional customer service is vital if you want to win over the Baby Boomer clients. This generation loves one-on-one interactions in person, over the phone or through online live chats.

User-friendly websites can add to the customer service experience. Many Baby Boomers want to find the answers to their questions easily on their own.

Baby Boomers are tech-savvy individuals, this age group is actually the fastest-growing demographic online. Baby Boomers spend more time per week online than they spend watching TV.

Creating and posting informative sources about your products or services online is just as important as explaining the benefits of the offerings your company provides. The internet is one of the most important information sources for Baby Boomers when they make purchasing decisions.

A website needs to be easy for Baby Boomers to use to purchase products, and marketing materials must include calls to action directing them to buy now. Baby Boomers can purchase Christmas gifts online from the comfort of their home; they couldn’t do this before, and, now that they can, they love it.

Incorporate social media into your digital marketing. Now that moms and dads are on Facebook, the younger generation is not as interested in being on these social sites. This is, however, a great place to reach Baby Boomers. Statistics show that Baby Boomers are the fastest-growing age on Facebook, with an 80% surge in users between 2010 and 2014.

The Importance of Generational Marketing

Don’t assume that all Baby Boomers or all of the members of the Silent Generation are the same. No group of people can or should be stereotyped.

Marital status, income, net worth, life experience, health and age are things that affect how people respond to marketing messages. It is your job to understand this, act accordingly and reach clients in the moments that matter with a message that will create a connection.

See also: How to Attract the Next Generation  

Whether you are working with a Baby Boomer or a member of the Silent Generation, every message should be tailored to connect with each individual consumers. You will find connecting with clients easier when you know what they consider to be respectful.

Respecting your clients, listening to their needs and giving them the best solution for their situation will lead you into the ideal client-agent relationship you desire.

Why Financial Wellness Is Elusive

In recent years, insurers have understood that many Americans face real financial challenges – whether saving for retirement or making ends meet on a monthly basis. Yet, no single company has differentiated itself in serving customer needs. Many companies that have a stated goal of improving financial wellness have focused instead on improving financial literacy.

As a result, they haven’t seen as many improved outcomes as they’d hoped. Others, who have tried to remove customer barriers to action, have found that their efforts sometimes lead to unintended consequences (e.g., auto enroll and auto increase leading to increased hardship loans because of inattention to underlying cash management issues). In addition, those competing for share of wallet in the financial wellness space have traditionally taken an “inside-out” view, highlighting their own product features but leaving customers to sort out which types of products they can piece together to meet their varied needs.

Moreover, many traditional financial wealth advisers have focused on the narrow, super-affluent customer segment, whereas a broad swath of customers who desire advice and guidance remain effectively un(der) served. According to a 2017 PwC Financial Wellness survey, 53% of respondents who are currently employed felt stress dealing with their personal financial situation, and 46% of respondents indicated that financial stress was their primary stressor.

As of now, recent advances in technology and analytics, including in robo-assisted advice (made possible by artificial intelligence and advanced analytics), are dramatically reducing the cost of providing financial advisory services, creating a sizable market opportunity as competitors can develop sustainable business models to target a much wider range of customers. At the same time, advances in digital experiences available to consumers have started to heighten customer expectations about the transparency, accessibility and personalization of financial advisory solutions for anyone serving this space, including insurers. Finally, technology advances and transformative portal and services architectures are paving the way for platform economies that allow connectivity across multiple providers.

Delivering integrated financial wellness solutions

To win customers, insurers must understand what customers want, rather than focus simply on what their own products can do. In the short term, this means addressing the need most customers have to maximize their monthly budgets. In the longer term, customers want to prepare for retirement, potential emergencies, healthcare needs, college expenses and transferring wealth to younger generations.

While customer needs may seem simple and straightforward, providing advice about them is anything but, given the complex and changing economic and financial conditions facing younger workers in particular. On average, millennials are saddled with almost 300% more student debt than their parents and are earning 2.9% in average annual returns on 401(k) plans, compared with 6.3% returns for Baby Boomers. Many younger workers will need to work longer; in fact, federal data suggests that the average millennial will need to work until age 75.

See also: Ethics of Workplace Wellness Industry

Helping customers understand and manage their financial wellness suggests a need for a broad solution centered on them (not a basket of off-the-shelf products). This solution includes:

  • Personalized financial information accessible via a digital platform that takes into account personal circumstances and changing lifetime needs,
  • Access to an adviser/coach/counselor who offers tailored guidance, actionable solutions and answers to specific questions on a range of topics (e.g., health, wellness, finances, insurance benefits, legal services), as well as
  • Access to a wide range of customizable financial products and solutions (e.g., 401K/403B accounts, life insurance, auto/home insurance and college saving plans).

Competing with others for integrated financial wellness

While retail banks, wealth managers and financial planners are typically viewed as being the best-equipped to help individuals achieve their financial goals, many of them have focused primarily on helping wealthy customers accelerate their wealth accumulation and secure access to credit, rather than the protection aspects of wellness. More recently, they have started to consider the implications of a broader definition of financial wellness; in contrast, employers have been concerned about their employees’ holistic financial wellness and how it affects their productivity for years.

Millennials are expected to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2025, and the extent of their financial stress is particularly concerning for employers. An alarming 47% of those who feel financial stress say that they’re either missing work occasionally or their productivity at work has been affected by financial worries, and even more of them – 50% – said that they’re spending three or more hours each week at work dealing with personal financial issues.

Employers will continue to be a critical touchpoint for insurers because they serve as an effective point of access to deliver financial wellness programs to employees, and have access to a significant amount of employees’ personal financial information. Employees tend to view employers as an objective party that seeks to protect their financial well-being rather than profit from them, and employer effectiveness in delivering financial wellness solutions can improve employees’ perception of and satisfaction with their compensation (which in turn has a real impact on a company’s performance).

The competitive landscape

Considering customers’ holistic needs, the size of the financial wellness market and employer motivation to provide employees financial wellness programs, the fundamental question is how insurers can capture the market before competitors do.

It won’t be easy. The financial wellness marketplace is crowded. It ranges from traditional, established players like financial advisers at financial institutions, retirement providers, individual and group insurers all the way to consulting firms, health insurers and emerging insurtech companies. This competitive landscape is especially complex because these institutions’ capabilities
are fluid, not static; many of them form partnerships and make acquisitions to obtain leading-edge capabilities and frequently revise their business models to incorporate emerging forms of innovation.

As in the market as a whole, seamless and personalized digital delivery remains vital to provide customers a worthwhile, user-friendly experience, as well as generate actionable insights insurers can use to tailor and enhance their financial wellness offerings.

See also: A Wellness Program Everyone Can Love  

We believe that whoever gains a meaningful share of the financial wellness market will:

  • Focus on understanding and addressing customers’ holistic financial protection needs, rather than use the traditional “inside-out” orientation just to sell products and services.
  • Offer personalized, actionable and digitally enabled financial wellness solutions that include financial products, advisory services and educational resources that continually promote improved outcomes.
  • Effectively target specific customer segments.
  • Develop ways to drive engagement with consumers through an advanced digital platform with real “human” support at moments of truth.
  • Demonstrate positive ROI to employers.
  • Derive the rich, data-driven insights into customers that enable continued improvement of financial wellness offerings.

Implications

To compete effectively, insurers will need to determine a distinct basis for differentiation and focus investment in those capabilities that are key to strengthening their way to play in the market.

Potential ways to play include:

  • Analytical segment specialist – Defined by the use of data-driven insights to better understand customers and provide tailored solutions to effectively meet their employees’ needs.
  • Consumer experience expert – Defined by the provision of seamless end-to-end customer experiences, primarily through digital or mobile channels, to deepen relationships with both the employer and employee.
  • One-stop-shop provider – Defined by providing employers and employees the ability to access and purchase all desired products or solutions in a single place using an ecosystem approach.

Real opportunity exists for insurers in the financial wellness space as the market’s current business model strains under changing socioeconomic conditions and a challenging investment environment. While the financial wellness niche was siloed in the past, forward-looking insurers must strengthen their market strategy, offerings and capabilities to gain market share in this highly crowded, competitive and converging marketplace.

This report was written by Jamie Yoder, Juneen Belknap, Kent Allison and Caitlin Marcoux.

How to Attract the Next Generation

It may surprise you to learn that nearly 10,000 baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are retiring every day. For industries such as insurance, this means a number of jobs will suddenly become vacant, and with those vacancies come the associated challenges of attracting the coveted millennial workforce. Though targeting industry newcomers in the now-largest working generation may require meeting particular criteria to match their unique preferences, our latest survey results reveal there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to attracting millennials.

Our fourth annual “Millennials in Insurance” survey asked 3,500 insurance professionals, including 1,556 millennials, about their career preferences and priorities. This article explores those results and how the insurance industry can use this data to attract the next wave of professionals.

Millennials Listen to Their Friends

When it comes to recruiting millennials, the insurance industry may not face as many challenges as many may think when it comes to replacing the “Silver Tsunami” of boomers exiting the industry. Especially when 82% of millennials would recommend a career in insurance to others, and 39% of those already working in insurance were recruited by friends.

See also: 3 Reasons Millennials Should Join Industry  

Insurance business’ biggest asset is their current millennial employees, and tapping into their networks offers valuable word-of-mouth exposure for recruiting efforts. Offering incentives to current employees is a great way to increase motivation to bring in new talent and capitalize on referrals.

They Want to Grow Within Their Company

Contrary to popular belief, millennials tend to be sticking with their roles in the insurance industry rather than jumping from job to job. In fact, 67% of millennials currently working in insurance have been in the industry for at least three years and say they have no plans to leave. So how can the industry use this information to ensure their younger employees stick around?

Offering them clear opportunities for growth is key. When asked about choosing a career, 63% of millennial respondents said they are most concerned with their ability to grow internally within their organization and “climb the ladder.” However, growth opportunities can’t come at the cost of sacrificing work-life balance, with 50% of millennials reporting they prioritize work-life balance over everything else. Offering less traditional schedules outside the typical nine to five or opportunities to work remotely or having a pet-friendly office may help attract millennials looking for perks and benefits that offset some of the costs they may incur outside of work.

Arm Them With Tech, and You’ll See Results

The insurance industry is adopting technology more aggressively to remain competitive. Over the past year, usage of social media and communications technologies has increased significantly as a strategy for improving customer service, and millennial employees agree, with 78% sharing that they’re adequately armed with the tools they need to compete and succeed. Continuing to arm employees with new and updated technology that allows work to be done more efficiently will attract and retain millennial talent that look for these kinds of resources when evaluating career opportunities.

See also: 10 Commandments for Young Professionals 

What’s Next?

While the insurance industry has made leaps and bounds toward attracting and fostering the millennial workforce, there is still work to be done to ensure the employment gap is filled. Companies that adapt to meet the priorities of the millennial generation, like offering positive work-life balance, clear career growth opportunities and a diverse suite of technology tools, will undoubtedly reap the rewards of a loyal and high-achieving workforce. By catering to these individuals, the industry will be able to capitalize on fresh talent and new perspectives to transform the future of insurance.

How to Embrace Workforce Flexibility

Because of the economic crash in 2007, many people were left scrambling for work, any work.

Those who were determined, but still came up short, looked inward to their skill sets and assets to find relief.

The answer quickly became obvious; what is now referred to as the flexible workforce or sharing economy, is made up entirely of freelancers and independent contractors.

This new group of freelance workers now makes up more than 35% of U.S. workers and earned more than $1 trillion last year.

This information is found in a recent survey, “Freelancing in America: 2016,” which was published by Upwork, one of America’s largest freelance workplace platforms.

The Gig Economy: A Brief Introduction

The gig economy is a term that describes a portion of the U.S. economy that is made up of freelancers. It is often used, interchangeably, with “sharing economy,” “collaborative consumption” or “access economy.”

This growing army of gig workers has become an integral part of the workforce, available on an on-demand basis.

This has allowed innovative businesses to pivot and remain nimble. Indeed, in an era where consumers are increasingly more interested in access over ownership, flexible workforces have become powerful tools for businesses.

Although many believe this segment of the workforce may be a fad that will soon to be diminished when unemployment numbers eventually plummet, a closer look at available data indicates otherwise.

Reportedly, the gig economy has grown every year over the past five, and there are solid indications that this trend will continue.

See also: 9 Impressive Facts on Sharing Economy  

What the Feds Report

Well, they haven’t quite caught up yet – although they’re getting there.

The labor experts in D.C. minimize the gig economy by referring to gig workers as “contingent workers” (any position not expected to last longer than one year).

The feds report that that this segment makes up about 4% of the total workforce.

Looking more closely, however, one can easily determine that the most recent survey numbers used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to data accumulated more than 10 years ago.

I don’t feel like we need to delve into why that’s an issue, correct?

How the Gig Economy Is Growing

The gig economy continues to increase as traditional companies look for solutions to workforce issues.

Although “outsource” is a term that consumers and traditional employees detest, no one has a problem with a temp in the workplace.

But when you use the word “outsource” (which is what a temp employee is), many Americans think of good American jobs being sent overseas where workers will work for pennies on the dollar.

The gig economy is growing because entrepreneurial gig workers now have the means to share with others how they can become freelancers and realize their dreams of being self-employed.

Platforms such as Upwork, Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit, WeGoLook and many others seamlessly connect this new freelancer class with those who have paid work available.

This entire process is all facilitated by innovative mobile technology and apps.

What’s not to love about that?

It’s certainly not for everyone, but for those who even feel a mild burn of the entrepreneurial spirit, they can use their skills or assets to become part of the gig economy.

Why The Gig Economy Is Growing

The gig economy (flexible workforce) continues to grow because America needs it to grow.

Companies can access skilled on-demand workers for one-off or continuing tasks.

Thanks to on-demand worker platform, businesses can now access expert freelancers to perform critical functions that are temporarily needed.

According to Jobshop, nearly one-third of B2B companies plan to hire gig workers over the next five years.

Further, a report by Fieldglass indicates that 95% of B2B companies not only understand, but recognize, the need to incorporate the gig economy into their business models.

The American workers are changing. Many regard employment as a job totally unrelated to what their life goals may be.

Goals that were formed in their minds at a young age and continue to burn deep in their hearts.

Even highly skilled workers earning terrific incomes imagine what it would be like to do what they love to do rather than what they have to do.

Although born out of necessity, gig work has become a compromise for millions of hard-working Americans.

Freelancing allows them to choose to do what they love and what they are best at. It provides the flexibility to work the hours of their choice, spend more time with family and become highly skilled experts in a field they love.

Embracing the Flexible Workforce

The insurance industry can embrace this growing flexible workforce made up of skilled freelancers in a number of ways.

For starters, insurance carriers can use skilled gig workers to create efficiencies across many channels in their organization.

Although major insurers have embraced technology, they continue to fumble the ball streamlining their processes and supply chain.

Similar to the federal government, large insurers have many layers of bureaucracy that at times put the breaks on workflow, innovation and even communication.

The result typically frustrates the consumers they have committed to serve.

In the digital age where consumers crave access, convenience and timely services, cumbersome policies and bureaucracies will fade. Quickly!

Areas that need rethinking and refocus are those where consumer interaction is critical.

Communication

There are many critical areas of communication that need not be assigned to full-time workers.

These tasks are generally performed on-demand and for specific reasons and following certain events.

Using a skilled freelancer who can be available on an as-needed basis for a short period makes more sense than using a highly paid (when you consider compensation plus benefits) full-time employee.

See also: Benefits: One Size No Longer Fits All  

Claims

Streamlining the claims process is a priority for every insurer because it’s not only a profit-earning department, it has many functions considered menial to an experienced licensed adjuster.

Tasks such as consumer visits, picture taking, damage verification and more could easily be assigned to a local gig worker.

Why maintain a network of thousands of field employees nationwide when you can access hundreds of thousands of on-the-ground gig workers when you need them?

Although claims activity can be forecast to a certain degree, many insurers are caught off guard with the arrival of events such as a natural disaster.

This often leaves carriers scrambling to recruit independent contractors, who sometimes are unwilling to perform many of the tasks that a freelancer can provide.

Marketing

Because marketing is about communicating with various market segments, it makes sense to contract with gig workers who specialize in that particular demographic.

For example, millennials communicate differently than Generation Xers, who talk differently than Baby Boomers.

Although each category can have similar insurance product needs, they prefer to learn about it, and make the purchase, in different manners.

Whether you are an agency or an insurer, outsourcing your marketing needs to a gig workers can make more sense than loading your payroll with different personality types so that you can accommodate the preferences of the various market segments.

Or, many companies are electing to leverage gig workers to augment their current full-time staff. Gig work isn’t a full-time or part-time discussion – they can be complimentary.

Whether you designate this growing on-demand labor force as the flexible workforce, gig economy, freelancers or outsourcing, there is no doubt that this workforce can provide skilled on-demand workers to the insurance industry.

These are workers who are doing what they know best and are passionate about.

Principals in the insurance industry should look to this flexible workforce to streamline processes that affect consumer satisfaction and save payroll dollars in the process.

As the gig economy continues to grow as a viable employment alternative for many, traditional insurers can get ahead of the curve by leveraging them and embracing flexibility.